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“Teach him to fish and he will always eat”
Thu, 10/25/2012 - 09:01

Carolina Rovira

“Enséñale a pescar y comerá siempre”
Carolina Rovira

Carolina Rovira es Coordinadora académica del Informe sobre Desarrollo Humano del Programa de las Naciones Unidas El Salvador.

Confucius wrote “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him to fish and he will eat forever.” In the Community of Río Arriba (in El Salvador) I really understood what this phrase means.

In my position as a researcher, I arrived in the field with a series of hypotheses to test. The exercise began and little by little, sometimes with difficulty, sometimes more fluidly, the eight participants told us how to live life in poverty.

Two characters were the protagonists of his speech: God who resolves and decides everything; and brother Vicente... who lives in the hearts of the inhabitants of Río Arriba, very close to God or at least, to heaven.

We still don't know Don Vicente. In the conversation we learned that he is an engineer who, under the management of the Techo-El Salvador organization, teaches them how to create home gardens and chicken farms. Now, everyone there has the dream of improving their lives by selling vegetables, incubating eggs, raising chickens, and even one of them wants to formalize a workshop to repair and manufacture artisanal incubators.

Don Vicente is giving these people tools to function productively. But, above all, it is giving them a chance to be and do. In a place where possibilities are scarce and sometimes non-existent, Don Vicente is more than an engineer: he is a maker of dreams.

Don Vicente teaches how to fish and with that he ensures food, not only for the belly, but above all for the soul. Now it's clear to me. If there is a way to development, it is by pursuing a dream. Public policy must be able to create them.

*This column was originally published in UNDP's Humanum magazine.